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Reclaim Precious Square Footage Through Off-site Package Management

Reclaim Precious Square Footage Through Off-site Package Management
From parking to patios, storage to poolside seating, space is finite at multifamily properties. Because square footage is directly linked to revenue at apartment communities, it is critical to leverage each inch of real estate and maximize the return on investment (ROI). Every apartment community has unique spaces throughout its design that are ripe with revenue potential. Often, those spaces were designed with a specific purpose in mind but have long since ceased to deliver value to residents or ROI to operators. Some of the most common culprits in multifamily are package rooms and package locker facilities. In recent years, and particularly since the start of the pandemic, property managers have witnessed the shortcomings of those package solutions. E-commerce trends have created package volume levels that have outpaced the capabilities of package rooms and lockers, forcing operators to find additional space for package storage. We’ve even heard horror stories about property teams converting fitness centers, apartment units and leasing offices into overflow package rooms just to manage the escalating package volume, displacing leasing teams, impacting potential revenue and simply detracting from the community’s appeal in the process. But what if, rather than dedicating additional space to package storage, property managers could reduce the square footage required for package management to zero?  With a third-party package management solution that stores resident deliveries off-site, that’s the reality. When packages are received and stored off-site and delivered directly to residents, package lockers become obsolete and package rooms become unnecessary. Instead of scrambling to find addit......
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Proptech: ‘Fees’ is Not a Four-Letter Word

Proptech: ‘Fees’ is Not a Four-Letter Word
When multifamily companies explore new technologies or services, upfront costs remain one of the most prohibitive hurdles standing in the way of implementation. Fee-based proptech often faces an even greater reluctance when it comes to adoption. After all, because budgets are carefully planned out a year in advance, apartment operators can’t just indiscriminately add line items to their monthly operating budgets to absorb the costs of a new service. Or can they? Consumers have grown accustomed to paying monthly subscription fees for everything from streaming platforms to food delivery services and exercise apps. So, why are apartment managers still hesitant to deploy solutions that include a similar pass-through fee to renters, especially if it’s for a service that improves the resident experience?  Given consumer comfort levels with convenience fees, residents probably wouldn’t bat an eye. One area of operations where property managers are turning to such fee-based solutions is package management. The benefits for operators are clear. Third-party package services offer off-site package storage and eliminate the burden and liability of package management from onsite teams. The hurdle facing many multifamily companies is the fact that they recently bit the proverbial bullet and paid for expensive package lockers, making them less than eager to pay for yet another package solution even when their existing systems prove inadequate. Operators have also been historically reluctant to ask residents to pay yet another fee. But the consumer culture is changing, and “fees” isn’t the four-letter word it once was. At progressive properties that have transitione......
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Is Your Package Solution Causing Problems?

Is Your Package Solution Causing Problems?
Package management had become a growing concern for apartment communities, even before “safer at home” and “quarantine” became a part of our everyday life. But the pandemic triggered an irreversible trend for consumers, who now rely on e-commerce for even their most basic needs. As the pandemic took shape, responsive property management companies quickly identified the potential issue of the increase in e-commerce trends and took steps to accommodate their residents’ expanding package needs through various means. But operators are now beginning to realize that the package solution they chose may have been a step in the wrong direction. The Common Solutions  Property managers have several options when it comes to managing residents’ packages.  Many multifamily communities discontinued package services altogether when the delivery volume exceeded manageable levels. Staffing and space limitations made it unfeasible for on-site teams to continue to receive, store and distribute packages on behalf of residents. This left residents without a method to pick up their packages. Other properties met their package challenges by throwing a full-time, dedicated employee at the problem. In these cases, an additional associate is added to the on-site team and made solely responsible for receiving, sorting and organizing packages, notifying residents of package arrivals and facilitating package distribution.  Rather than handle packages at all, some properties began allowing carriers to leave packages at resident doorsteps.  Many management companies opted to repurpose existing square footage into designated, restricted-access package rooms where packages could be left by carriers for resident pick-up. Like doorstep deliveries, this elimin......
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Secure Package Management Plays a Significant Role in Resident Satisfaction

Secure Package Management Plays a Significant Role in Resident Satisfaction
Apartment managers had all been through the holiday package crush before, but they had never navigated a holiday shopping season compounded by COVID-19. Even before Black Friday, e-commerce trends in 2020, fueled by health concerns over in-person shopping, had established package volume levels that surpassed the holiday season from 2019.  Multifamily communities were already struggling to manage resident package volume, which made the 2020 holiday shopping season a truly eye-opening experience. Package deliveries inundated apartment communities like never before, exacerbating an already untenable situation. Leasing offices struggled to keep pace, only to be left with the blame for the delayed or lost holiday shipments, and strained resident relationships. As we move into 2021, the baseline delivery volume is projected to remain 30% higher, rendering traditional package management infrastructure ineffective. A solution with the ability to scale alongside the increasing number of deliveries is a requirement moving forward in the multifamily space. Package Storage Overflowing, Overworking On-site Teams  Apartment communities that planned to lean on their package rooms or package lockers to accommodate pandemic-level package volume have already experienced the shortcomings of those package management systems. Those amenities were installed with the intention to relieve on-site teams of package management responsibilities. In reality, those on-site package facilities are overflowing and have been for most of the year, forcing short-staffed leasing offices to resume package management duties. Package rooms and package lockers weren’t designed to handle the current package flow that is funneling into multifamily properties, and once their storage capacity is surpassed, c......
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Control Community Exposure Through Contactless Package Management

Control Community Exposure Through Contactless Package Management
When the Covid-19 pandemic first arrived, multifamily management companies took immediate steps to facilitate social distancing and limit direct contact between team members and residents. Virtual and self-guided tours were deployed in the place of in-person guided tours with a leasing agent. Offices, lobbies, amenities and other community common areas were closed. Cleaning and disinfecting services were ramped up overnight. But many communities failed to address one glaring hole in their defenses against the virus – package deliveries. The problem escalated quickly as renters overwhelmingly turned to online retailers for most of their consumer needs in order to avoid direct contact with others. According to a report from McKinsey & Company, the U.S. had already seen a 20% increase in preference for contactless operations as of April. The trend has led to a staggering increase in package deliveries.  It’s an oversight that has created a number of new problems for property managers struggling to maintain the integrity of their contactless community. Access Control  The fact that residents have stayed home for the most part during the pandemic, coupled with the specific closures and protocols that communities have in place, has helped properties to reduce person-to-person and shared-surface contact. However, the sudden reliance on e-commerce has created a seemingly endless parade of package carriers coming and going from multifamily communities.  In most cases, operators have no idea how many different delivery drivers have visited their communities during the day, where they’ve been within the community and what personal precautions they’ve taken. One package......
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Brisk Holiday Online Sales Reinforce the Need for Modern Package Management

Brisk Holiday Online Sales Reinforce the Need for Modern Package Management
Apartment communities across the country often are overwhelmed with the problems presented by package delivery and management.   During the 2019 holiday season, many of them surely felt especially stressed.   According to Mastercard SpendingPulse, overall holiday retail sales in the U.S. increased by 3.4 percent when compared to 2018. More importantly, for the purposes of this discussion, online sales grew by 18.8 percent during the recent holiday season when compared with one year earlier.   “E-commerce sales hit a record high this year with more people doing their holiday shopping online,” said Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard and former CEO and chairman of Saks Inc., in a statement.   Meanwhile, Amazon announced it enjoyed a “record-breaking” holiday season, in which “billions of items were ordered worldwide.”   According to the online retail giant, “more people tried Prime this holiday season than any previous year – in fact, in one week alone, more than 5 million new customers started Prime free trials or began paid memberships worldwide.”   To help handle the holiday crunch, Amazon hired more than 250,000 full- and part-time seasonal workers. Overall, the company says its last-mile delivery network delivered more 3.5 billion packages across the globe in 2019.   The craziness didn’t end with the passage of Christmas. In the final days of 2019, UPS announced it expected to handle 1.9 million return packages on National Returns Day (Jan. 2). That figure would represent a 26 percent increase from one year earlier and would set an all-time record for the carr......
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Package Management 2.0: It’s the logistics

Package Management 2.0: It’s the logistics
E-commerce is growing at a rapid-fire pace. Your residents now have access to millions of products online, and they can purchase them at all hours of the day or night. And those purchases need to make it to your residents somehow, someway.  Ten years ago, package management was a task for the onsite leasing teams. It was something they could easily manage. However, as e-commerce grew and more and more packages were arriving onsite, it became obvious that managing packages was too taxing and too time consuming for your teams.  Enter package lockers. For the last five years, these systems effectively tackled the storage conundrum and gave your teams their time back. But now, as e-commerce continues its jaw-dropping growth, the industry is starting to realize that onsite lockers by themselves are no longer enough.  The number of carriers is no longer limited to the top three. Packages are arriving at all hours of the day, and your residents want to be able to retrieve and even ship their packages any time they want.  So, what is the next phase in package management? The way I see it, there are two choices.  Option 1: Potentially frustrate your residents by not accepting packages onsite There has been a shift in the industry towards not accepting resident package deliveries onsite. Communities either require packages be shipped off-site or they make residents find other places to have them delivered, like work. The problem with this option is that while it makes your associates’ jobs e......
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What's In the Box?

What's In the Box?
"Everything."Ask an onsite associate what residents are having delivered to apartment communities these days, and that one word is likely to be their answer.Over the past half decade, apartment properties have become inundated with packages as consumers' taste for e-commerce has exploded. Onsite team members sometimes must feel as though they do little besides handle package deliveries and their subsequent pick-up by renters. The problem has been exacerbated by inefficient delivery supply chains and the high number of distribution centers. Just think back to the last time you placed an Amazon order that had multiple items. Did all the items come together in one package or did they come separately? I would venture to guess they came separately. Now expand that out to the number of residents you have at a single community…and there in lays the problem that we will be facing very soon.  There are many layers that create this significant challenge: more packages are being delivered, there are more carriers, and package sizes are rapidly changing.  Residents purchasing more bulky items – like furniture – that are difficult for communities to keep stored in a leasing office or dedicated package room. Gone are the days when packages consisted largely of manageable rectangular boxes. A 2018 Reuters article noted "a growing appetite from younger consumers to buy everything from BBQ grills and mattresses to dining room tables online."Package deliveries are, in every sense of the word, a growing problem, and the time has come for multifamily operators to get sophi......
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Top 5 Package Management Problems No One is Talking About

Top 5 Package Management Problems No One is Talking About
We know there’s a package problem – there is absolutely no denying that. We talk about porch pirates. We talk about no longer accepting packages. We talk about the various solutions to today’s package situation. But as the industry searches for ways to fix the problem, there are some vital areas that aren’t being discussed, including the impact to apartment owners and management companies and how ROI cannot simply be measured in cost-per-unit. Poor package management negatively impacts the leasing team because they end up handling packages instead of focusing on their value-add job of signing new leases to drive revenue.By not addressing the top five issues below, finding the best solution to the package conundrum will remain elusive:1.    The package problem will become bigger than we realize: Well, yes, we are talking about the future growth of the package problem, but the industry is looking to solve for the number of packages it receives today rather than what it will receive in the future. In 2017, e-commerce sales accounted for 9 percent of all retail sales in the United States. This figure is expected to reach 12.4 percent in 2020. That’s increased from 5.8 percent in 2013, meaning online sales has almost doubled in less than five years. 2.    Packages are evolving: The iconic Amazon rectangle box is a thing of the past. Packages are no longer squares or rectangles that can fit into a pre-determined space. Oversized, awkwardly shaped and even heavy packages are being delivered hourly to properties nationwid......
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5 Record-Breaking 2018 Holiday Package Delivery Statistics

This year, shoppers smashed previous records for Black Friday and Cyber Monday spending, with over $7.9 billion spent online. As a result, multifamily properties have been bracing for the millions of package deliveries following in their wake. The dust has finally settled from Black Friday. Here's a snapshot of package delivery statistics from thousands of multifamily communities across the United States. These stats shed light on the aftermath of “the largest online shopping day in US history”, and paint a picture of the unique package management challenges apartment communities face every December.    1. In one week, package delivery increased by 68%. With over 39% of holiday shoppers planning to do their shopping equally in-store and online, it’s no surprise that package volume surged in the week following Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This year, the amount of packages shipped and delivered increased by 68%, compared to the week before Black Friday. This huge jump follows the surge experienced in 2017, when package volume increased by 80% pre-Black Friday to post-Black Friday.  We could be witnessing the emergence of a new status quo: the week following Black Friday, prepare for package delivery volume to nearly double. This knowledge can help property managers better prepare for the operational challenges in store.   2. Properties saw 5% more packages than in 2017. On an individual level, shoppers ordered more packages this year than the 2017 Black Friday weekend—but not that many more. True, the week following Black Friday 2018 saw more packages per day deliver......
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